Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Mozzarella

Jul 23rd

The colors are Christmas in July but the flavors are pure summertime. With herb gardens generously yielding their bounty thanks to the buckets of rain we’ve been getting, jazzing up this basic pasta salad was a cinch. Though this would be perfect as a side with basic grilled chicken or sausage, it’s high enough in protein (thanks to the cheese and beans) that you can bring the leftovers to work for a stand-alone lunch. Have a problem with gluten? Try this with quinoa or brown rice. If dairy is the issue this would be delicious with goat cheese, which many people can tolerate on dairy-free diets (obviously it’s a dish that’s easy to customize). Finally, I’d like to apologize for mentioning Christmas – fear not, we’ve got tons of summertime left!

PS I made this with orzo because I thought it’d work best, but it made me realize how much I use my husband as a human garbage disposal. He can’t eat this (orzo is wheat pasta) and though I’ve been happily chipping away (it’s wonderful cold, by the way), I just can’t rid my fridge of the big batch. He’s a great eater in that he will eat anything warm and in front of him when he’s hungry. I love the flavor and next time I’ll be trying it with quinoa for the man of the house.

Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Mozzarella

Serves 6

1 lb. asparagus, tough ends trimmed and chopped into 2 inch pieces

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 c. whole-wheat orzo

1 c. cubed mozzarella

¼ c. finely chopped sundried tomatoes

1 c. canned cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

½ tsp. kosher salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

½ tsp. fresh oregano leaves, minced

¼ c. thinly sliced basil leaves

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread asparagus on foil lined baking sheet and toss with 1 tbsp. of the olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.

2. Roast for 10-15 minutes or until bright green and turning golden on the edges.

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3. Remove from oven and let cool. Meanwhile, boil 4 c. water in a saucepan. Add orzo and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Let cool slightly.

4. Place mozzarella, tomatoes and beans in mixing bowl. Add asparagus and orzo.

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5. Add remaining two tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, oregano and basil and stir to combine.

6. Serve room temperature or cold.

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